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Enamels in pickle

Some of the Thompson Enamel leaded group react with sparex and acids
to ruin the enamel surface. The lead-bearing transparent blues are
particularly susceptible to this. The surface loses it’s luster and
looks fogged; nothing seems to bring it back to normal. Thompson says
the lead-free enamels are acid resistant. I haven’t tried the French,
Japanese or European enamels in sparex or other acid.

Donna in VA

1 Like
    This talk of not using an acid pickle, or not putting your work
in acid,  sounds puzzling to me, as we used a (dilute nitric) acid
bath after enameling on copper, to get rid of fire scale on the side
that had not yet been enameled. Is this no longer done? 


Pickle is like anything else in the jewelry trade. You have to know
how to use it. I usually use fine silver to enamel on and teach my
workshops using fine silver. I only use pickle when I am having
problems with an enamel and I need to really clean a piece. So I
usually don’t have to pickle a piece. I just recently used copper to
enamel on and discovered that pickle seems to break down certain
colors in the Japanese leaded enamels that I use, reds, blacks,
whites. Solution: Pickle the piece with “cold pickle”. Don’t leave
the piece in the pickle to long and you will be fine and make sure
your piece is clean and neutralized after you pickle. I do not put
my enamels in the ultrasonic after putting it in the pickle to clean
the enamel, and was originally taught that way. I have had students
put enameled pieces in the ultrasonic with no ill effects. But, I put
so much time in a piece that I don’t want to take a chance and an
ultra sonic seems aggressive way to clean an enamel and it won’t clean
fire scale anyway. You can always paint a resist on certain colors
that have a tenancy to break down. i.e.:wax. There is also a product
called “Scalex” that you can paint on the exposed areas of metal that
helps reduce firescale. Also, another product called "Penney Brite"
that you can clean copper with as well. Some others who use more
copper than I do may be able to share their experience with this
product. As I mentioned before, I only use pickle to clean an enamel
if I am having a problem with a piece since I use fine silver to
enamel on.

I am looking forward to seeing what others have to offer on this
topic. Great question.

Linda Crawford
Linda Crawford Designs
Willits, CA